Every month, when we’re sorting out the run date for this competition, Zach, Vince, and I start taunting one another on Slack. It’s not full-fledged shredding just yet — we save that for the actual article. More of a gentle ribbing. We inevitably brag about our dishes and, usually by mid-cycle, we all know who actually “brought it.”
Truth be told, if I looked back through the series, I could probably find one meal each round where one of the three of us was out of the running because of some unforced error that would never have happened if we’d had a pinch more time, or been in our home kitchens, or had access to the right ingredients.
Not this month. This month everyone brought it. We also all knew that we’d all brought it and, for us at least, that made the month very exciting. Because as you judge our chilis, know that there aren’t any asterisks. There’s no, “I just had a baby!” or “I’m colorblind!” or “I couldn’t find my beloved sous vide!” from your cheftestants.
We all like chili.
We all made chili.
We’re all proud of the chili we made.
Only god can judge us now. And by god, we mean you, the readers. Because if Zach, Vince, and I have one thing in common, it’s that we worship at the altar of outside approval. We’re just three boys, standing in front of some commenters, asking you to love our food.
BLT Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
Mac & Cheese Showdown — 1) Vince 2) (tie) Zach, Steve
Taco Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Winter Stew Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Steve 3) Vince
Date Night Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Pasta Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Hot Beef Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Shellfish Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
BBQ Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Pumpkin Spice Showdown — 1) (tie) Vince, Zach 2) Steve
Thanksgiving Side Dish Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Steve 3) Zach
Christmas Dessert Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Vince 3) Zach
We’re giving three points to the winner and one to second place for each round. As it stands, the score is:
Things are heating up, it’s the perfect time for chili!
STEVE’S CHILI COLORADO
I think I’ve told my “that’s when I fell in love with food” origin story about seventeen times; different each time. But chili colorado, if not where I fell in love with food, was certainly when I realized that there was someone behind the curtain, making each dish.
The restaurant was called Chez Jose, in Portland (OR) and it was a trendy Mexican place at a time when most of the other Mexican joints in Portland were holes-in-the-wall. Still, this was the 90s. The plates still had rice and beans, portioned off in sections; everything was just a little more sophisticated.
Anyway, I ordered the chili colorado one day and… it was just so new to me, flavor-wise. Richer and deeper than the Mexican food I’d known up until then. I fell in love with that dish. It was my “If this is out there, think how much MORE is out there!!!” culinary moment. It was the kind of food that told me to go out and be somebody.
So that’s what I’ve prepared for you. Childhood nostalgia meets deep savory flavors. My culinary sweet spot.
If I win this challenge on any single level, it’s the focus on actual chilis. My dish has no beans, no tomatoes, nothing to build a chili around besides chilis. Here are the ones I used:
- New Mexico (called the “colorado” chili in Mexico)
Note that these chilis aren’t about to shatter at the slightest touch. I went to the Mexican grocer, where they go through their dried chilis quickly; rather than buying them at a mainstream store, where they sit idle for ages. The chili should have some moisture in it and be pliable. (Pretty solid set up for a joke about Vince’s family members, please score points accordingly.)
I toasted the chilis and some onion quarters in olive oil then soaked them in hot beef broth for about 30 minutes. During that time, I moved onto the meat.
I used sirloin, which is a little fattier and more marbled then chuck. Naturally, I trimmed the silver skin, tendon, and fat ribbons that would feel distracting/weird to eat.